The Pittsburgh Steelers are out of Latrobe and back at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the regular season, where everything is magnified and, you know, actually counts. The team is working through the highs and lows and dramas that go through a typical Steelers season.
How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: How much will an extension with Javon Hargrave cost the Steelers this summer?
At this point I think—or at least I’d like to think—it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that the Steelers intend to work out a contract extension with fourth-year defensive tackle Javon Hargrave this summer. That won’t be the simplest task because they already have to do some bookkeeping to address their salary cap situation.
A player like Hargrave who plays a position that he does is interesting though because it’s hard to classify what he is. He is somewhere between a starter and a sub-package player. Obviously he will play nose tackle in a 3-4 front, but especially starting last season, he also sees time rotationally with five or six defensive backs on the field. But he works behind Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt.
In 2018, he more than doubled his career sack total, recording six and a half, in addition to a career-high 49 tackles. He has increasingly become a more effective player and performed at the highest level of his career during the back half of this past season.
So what exactly is that worth to the Steelers, and relative to the market? They are already paying a premium for Heyward and Tuitt, but if your talent is centrally located at one position, then you pay it. Yet what about Sean Davis? T.J. Watt a couple years down the line will need to be paid as well. Both of them play positions that are more valuable to the defense.
I think it will be an interesting summer to see how the front office handles the future of some of their players. Who will get paid—and how will the pay them? Who will have to wait until next year and potentially hit the open market? The Steelers came into the offseason with cap space but they made sure to spend it.